How to pack your Erasmus suitcase

Published by Manuel Herrero on

If packing a suitcase for a long trip is a somehow a complex task, preparing it to go on Erasmus becomes almost an "impossible" task; mainly when we want to pack everything we think is "necessary" to live four months or a year away from home. However, in the following article, we are going to give you the fundamental keys to be able to plan an "Erasmus baggage" without dying in the attempt.

The "3-pack" rule


Solving the mystery about what we should or should not include can be summarized in several fundamental recommendations. The first of them is to you think and meditate about how the suitcase you are going to use, is. The best advice given our experience is to apply the "3-pack" rule. That is, carry a carry-on bag, a check-in bag and a backpack/bag (personal item).

We will start by describing the carry-on bag. That first bag is one of the ones you should take advantage of the most. Pay attention to its measures, because they must comply with those marked by the airline you are going to travel with so that it does not put any obstacle at the time of boarding. You know that sometimes you can even check "in situ" in a kind of crate placed before boarding, if the suitcase is or not suitable. If the surpass the measures you will have to pay according to its weight. If it meets the requirements, checking-in of hand luggage is free. Its average dimensions usually are 55 x 35 x 20cms, depending, as we said above, on the company you fly with.

Guidance luggage dimensions by Erasmus Play

Guidance luggage dimensions by Erasmus Play

Luggage dimensions by carrier

This table shows the luggage's maximum dimensions of some of the most popular carriers among Erasmus students.

CarrierHand LuggagePersonal item
Ryanair55x40x20 cm20x35x20 xm
easyJet56x45x25 cm36x45x20 cm
AirEuropa55x35x25 cm30x35x20 cm
Iberia56x45x25 cmNo specified
Lufthansa55x45x23 cm30x40x10 cm
Vueling55x40x20 cm20x35x20c
Carrier's hand luggage and personal item's dimensions

Something to keep in mind if you have to buy this suitcase is to acquire the one whose measures coincide with the most restrictive company, this way you will always be able to use it without any inconveniences.

The weight is also a point to pay attention to. While it is true that it is quite strange or unusual to weigh it, prevention is better than cure because sometimes they do check it. So check it at home and try for it not to weigh more than 10 kilos, the maximum allowed generally (assure before).

How to pack everything you need in your Erasmus suitcase

Here lies an advice that has saved many Erasmus students when packing their luggage: the use of vacuum bags. These are bags whose contents are vacuumed, a key factor in saving a lot of space. Especially suitable for large items such as coats or winter sweaters. It is true that once at the destination and when you take out the clothes, they are very wrinkled; but that is a lesser evil when you have been able to pack that special thing which you like so much and thought would not fit. Another advantage of the bags is that they are relatively cheap and come in different sizes.

And what do I put in these bags? Try to make a list that corresponds to the climatic characteristics of the place you are going to. But don't get carried away because for example in Krakow in winter it is very cold, as the houses and premises are adapted to these conditions, so it will be hot inside. Or because in the south of Spain it is very hot in summer, as there are air conditioners. In short, take little of everything, but flee from the "just in case". Surely there are shops in your destination city where you can buy essential item of clothing that you have forgotten or could not include in your luggage. Remember that there can be no liquids or anything over 100 ml in your hand luggage. Another technique used to make clothes take up as little space as possible is to roll them up, mainly T-shirts and trousers.

Find the ideal size to check-in

Once you have made this first bundle, you should think about the size of the suitcase to be checked in and its weight. Should it be as big as the Piquer's trunk? At least this one is big, but not too big. In it, you will use the vacuum bags again, or the rolling technique, maybe both. A good idea is to divide the suitcase into two parts so that you leave one side for shoes without deforming them and for other products that you miss when you are away from home: food.

Yes, we recommend that you take some vacuum-packed sausage in this Erasmus suitcase, so you will avoid having to take it out at the checkpoints.

The "just in case"

The "just in case" things we mentioned in previous lines, we must clarify that they are very personal. For example, those who have problems sleeping may prefer to take their pillow, if a vacuum pillow takes up less space, or even a set of sheets or the cover that makes you feel at home. A sleeping mask can save you from sleepless nights, since in many countries blinds or curtains are not among their favourite decorative elements. Shower slippers and a microfiber towel are always good allies, as well as plastic cutlery, photos to decorate your room or a game like a deck of cards, both to socialize and to pass time.

A basic first aid kit can help you in many everyday situations. Including some generics for headache, anti-inflammatory or intestinal disorders is a fairly common recommendation, and more so if you suffer from any kind of disease or allergy. About hygiene items, only take those you think you can't find in the destination country.

Now we only have to plan what we will carry in the backpack/bag. Here the essential could be summarized in the documentation and some electronic device such as tablet or notebook and their respective chargers.

Extra tip

Some Erasmus students prefer to go more comfortably and avoid carrying the 3 types of bags described above. They choose to send themselves a box from their country of origin to their country of destination with the things that did not fit in their Erasmus suitcase. There are different companies that perform this type of service and you can consult them online. The cost of shipping will vary from the size and weight of the box, but could be around 30 to 50 euros.

And very important! Take a scarf with you that will act as a blanket will travelling and also take with you the ultimate will to make the most of your time. Is this information useful to prepare your Erasmus suitcase?

What about the essential material to study? We'll tell you about it in another article.

Manuel Herrero

Former Erasmus+ student, now ErasmusPlay CTO and Co-founder.


zidane · January 4, 2024 at 2:26 pm

nice information and good article thank you

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